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Peggy opened the door to her room with a flourish. She was in a room on the far end of the side hall. The Senator Johnson Room, had been designed for two residents, but right now, as a girl's room, it housed one until it was remodeled. It featured the late gentleman's desk and blotter, still with ink stains, under a heavy Plexiglas top, and his favorite rocker, with a thickly padded seat, as the Senator had an undefined problem with his 'rear'.
The bed really didn't belong in the room of a Northern Senator, being a huge Southern Plantation canopy bed with a motif of side-wheeler riverboat carved in the headboard and hidden linen storage under the foot. But since it had been given to the house, it had found its way in here, and served its purpose grandly.
Dale stared at the massive canopy over the bed. "Wow, how can you sleep under that, it must weigh two hundred pounds."
She glared at him.
The room was big, with a walk in closet, and a huge dresser with lighted mirror. He looked in the closet and said 'wow' again.
The room didn't exactly look like a young lady's room, but there were touches in the decor that softened the look to that of maybe a young pre-law lady.
"You're closet is the size of my whole room." Dale said standing in the middle of the side room.
"I need more space. I'm a lady."
Dale was still laughing when the butler knocked on the door announcing a house meeting about the upcoming open house.
The conference had basically canned their entire soccer schedule, declaring every game the team had played that season, and all upcoming games, forfeits. But the rest of the sports programs seemed to be surviving.
All this was before the university administration could even issue a follow up statement other than "No Comment" about the entire mess.
President Myersong called a press conference for nine that morning. He stood before reporters and tried to be honest about his feelings about what happened and what the university's plans were. But he really didn't know anything, and couldn't say too much about it. The athletic director was unavailable for comment.
The Assistant Athletic Director for Junior Varsity sports took the podium, handed the President a paper, and announced his immediate resignation.
Mary had Jack in hiding in her room. Jack had seen Mary drive by the house, he ran out and flagged her down and made a get away. They snuck into the back door of her dorm and made it to her room without being spotted.
He was wiped out, and fell asleep almost immediately on her bed.
She walked down the hall to freshen up. Cindy caught her in the hallway, "What's going on? I heard about the bust at the gym. But there are reporters here and a TV crew. They keep asking if you and Jack are here. So far I've played dumb..."
"How did they know about me?" Mary asked, then thought about it, the campus station knew, "Nevermind." She said.
"They're after Jack. They think he knows more than he said to the police." Cindy was really concerned.
Mary knew she had to have a story to tell, she thought quickly.
The party in the off-campus townhouse was starting to wind down, even though it was only just after midnight.
The party was hosted by an openly lesbian couple that belonged to the semi-official gay student alliance. Jimbo was sitting in the corner next to the kitchen drinking and ignoring everybody. He was listening to his friend Carl on the campus radio station. Carl had announced a heavy metal song, it was blaring from the speakers.
The girls were saying goodnight to some of the guests as they wandered out.
"I don't wanna go!" A drunken male voice announced from the living room.
The belligerence in the voice got Jimbo's attention.
"But it's getting late." The little redhead said to him.
"How about you and me?" He sneered to her.
"How about you go home?" The redhead's roommate said to him.
"Come on Robby." Somebody else said to him.
"This is the suckiest party I've ever been to! I ain't leaving until one of them takes care of me!"
Jimbo had heard enough. He drained his beer and lurched off the stool.
"Comeon, one or both of you! I'll fix you so you'll come back to men!" The drunk said roughly. He reached out and grabbed the redhead pulling her toward him.
Then he looked startled when his hand was suddenly wrenched away from the girl in a grip of iron.
"You're leaving. One way or the other." Jimbo said without emotion.
The drunk replied with a string of obscenities.
"...fine..." Jimbo grinned evilly and tightened his grip on the arm, with a twist.
The drunk jumped up and took a swing at him. The punch landed solidly on Jimbo's cheek.
Jimbo just stood there. "That the best you got?"
More curse words come out of his mouth.
Jimbo shoved the drunk back onto the couch. Then yanked him back up by his shirt. As the man came up, Jimbo let fly with a left that sent one of the drunk's fillings flying across the room.
The drunk fell heavily back against the couch, barely conscious.
Then Jimbo pulled him off the couch and shoved him towards the front door.
On the way, the dazed and bleeding man ran into the walls a few times, Jimbo may have assisted him in that though.
At the door the drunk proved he hadn't learned his lesson. He let fly with a string of cuss words and a wild punch.
In a split second, Jimbo slammed a devastating punch into the drunk's floating ribs, then he smashed the heel of his other hand into his nose, Jimbo kneed him in the groin, then threw him bodily down the stairs.
Jimbo turned around and kissed both girls. "Great party, hope you guys have another one. See ya around."
"They raided the locker room. A bunch of the players got busted, Jack was arrested but turned loose, he has charges too, but I don't think he's guilty. I've never seen so many cops, they even had dogs with them." Mary said quietly to her friend.
"So does he know something?" Cindy said.
Mary shrugged. "I don't think so, but he's asleep now, and I know he doesn't want to talk to reporters at all."
"I'll get rid of 'em. This is almost exciting." She went down-stairs.
The reporters talked her into making a statement about Jack being asleep and too exhausted from the ordeal to talk. Cindy saw her picture on the TV news the next day and her statement read word for word. She enjoyed it.
Mary opened her door slowly, Jack was awake now, watching her TV.
"Did you know you're antenna wire was off?" He asked her.
She shook her head. "There were reporters downstairs, Cindy is getting rid of them."
"Good." He nodded. "I hate sleeping in a soft bed, it hurts my back."
She opened her very small refrigerator, "All I got to drink is a couple of diet cola's."
Jack frowned at the cans, "If we can get out of here I'd like to go someplace with you."
"I think if we went out the way we came in we'd be all right."
He nodded and reached up to turn off her TV. She was amazed at just how long his arms really were.
They walked down to the low spot behind her dorm. His car was still in the parking lot by the gym, he knew it wasn't safe to go over there to get it. She drove to the Hunter's Lounge.
They found a secluded booth on the far side from where she had sat with Cindy that other bad night. Jack ordered a plate of nachos. He mumbled and played with the candle. She listened to him.
"... all I know is sports, oh sure I'm pulling a 'B' in Small Business management, but I don't know diddley about business." He took a drink, she said nothing. "How would it look, in an interview, 'yes sir, can set up a felony drug bust and seduce a cheerleader before coffee break.' I'd be great at conducting interviews, 'yes miss, how bad do you want this job?'" He fell silent.
She stared at him, "Are you all right?"
He looked up startled by her voice. "Yeah, yeah. I'm fine."
"I still think you did the right thing."
He smiled weakly, "But now any chance I had at the pro's is shot."
"You don't know that." She took his hands in hers. "They might re-instate basketball, its still a couple of months before the season."
He nodded. "I needed to hear that. You're right." He kissed her hand. "God. I just hope it was right."
"Jack." Mary squeezed his hand. "It's over, done, and it was right."
He nodded, then breathed deeply, "Yeah. I know. It was."
The Open House was moved up a week before it was even planned. Miss Alice decided she didn't want to wait almost two weeks for it.
The butler made a slight face indicating annoyance, but he set everything in motion as soon as she announced it. He immediately organized the house residents into committees to procure food and drink for about a hundred guests and residents.
The butler called a local booking agent to arrange entertainment.
Dr. Harrison was in charge of the group procuring the wine and other refreshments, the house had a standing rule, no hard liquor at parties, and the butler would frown on any wine from New York, he barely tolerated some of the better California wines. Sandy was dispatched with a couple of the other girls to get the relish trays and other light cold food for the event. Martha had a connection for the American Legion's portable cooker and crew to use it for the hot food.
The house, once motivated, was impressive in the organization and efficiency of operation.
"Dale." Miss Alice said to him with a stern look on her face. "I hope your room will be spic and span before Saturday."
"Yes, ma'am. I'll have it ready." Dale said to her. "How will I have it ready?" He said to himself.
They stayed until the bartender told them it was closing time.
There was a van in front of the Independent House that said 'Press- Journal' on its side.
"You could stay with me tonight." Mary offered with a sideways glance at him.
"You wouldn't be suggesting anything improper now would you?"
She looked at him with mock surprise. "Of course not!"
He shrugged, "Oh, well. I'll stay with you anyway."
They laughed together as she turned down Berlin Street toward her dorm.
"Let me make sure the coast is clear." Mary said just inside the back door. There was a woman in a pantsuit sitting in the main lounge.
"Oh, Miss?" The woman called to her before she could duck back into the stairwell. "Do you know Mary Henderson?"
Mary nodded and looked at her.
"Do you know where she's at?"
"If she's not in her room, she's probably with her boyfriend."
"That would be Jack Foster."
The woman looked at her notebook. "Do you know if she has a car?"
"I don't think so." Mary looked around, she lowered her voice, "I hear she's pregnant. They've been looking for a place off campus."
The woman looked at her, then she wrote in her notebook. "Do you know where they've been looking or if they've found a place?"
Mary seemed to think a bit. "I heard they looked over there across from McQuin Towers, in those apartments. You know the ones?"
The woman nodded. "Thank you."
Mary went back to the basement. She led Jack into the elevator. "There's a reporter upstairs, she's watching the stairs like a hawk."
"I don't like these old elevators." Jack said looking at the old clock- like dial and pointer floor indicator.
Late Friday afternoon everything was about set for the next day's open house.
All except Dale's room that is.
There didn't seem to be enough room for his expanded collection of possessions. Peggy volunteered to help. But there was no way to get everything under cover.
"You can store some of this in my closet, there's plenty of room."
"But what if I need some of this stuff." He said kicking a full box.
"You'll just have to come down to get it." She smiled at him.
They stuffed the odd socks and assorted junk in another box and carried them to her room.
The boxes fit neatly under the spare dresser in her closet.
"Why do you have a dresser in here?" Dale asked her.
"Sandy says it was a leftover from the remodeling of her room. I share this closet with her room next door." Dale looked at the door on the other end of the closet. "I also share the bathroom with her."
"You have a bathroom?" Dale was amazed.
"Sure." She showed him. It was a bathroom; tub, throne, double sink, cabinets and the rest. But Dale looked at it all anyway.
"Wow." Was all he said.
Mary heard voices outside the elevator on the floor above. Mary just knew it was the reporter, the elevator slowed. She pushed sideways on the door. The elevator jerked to a stop. Mary yanked out the stop button, then she let go of the door. She turned smiling to Jack. But he wasn't smiling. His eyes were wide, and his face pale.
"What happened?" He said weakly.
"Jack, the reporter is outside the doors on the first floor. I bet she's checking it too."
"I don't like this." He said starting to sweat, breathing faster.
"Oh, no." She said to herself. "You didn't tell me you have claustrophobia." She put her hand on his face, his skin was clammy.
Mary could hear voices again, one of them was Cindy. She was arguing with the woman reporter. She had the feeling that the woman had pushed the button on the floor just above them, but she didn't know what to do about it.
Jack was sweating heavily. He was panting and rubbing his head. "Mary, I need to get out of here."
Cindy was calling the lady reporter everything but a lady reporter using words Mary seldom heard Cindy say in public. The voices got fainter, they were moving away from the elevator doors. Mary eased the door back and pushed the stop button in. The elevator jerked up. The door opened and closed on the first floor. Mary heard them still arguing over toward the front door. Jack had started looking better as soon as the elevator started again.
When they got to her room, he was almost back to normal, at least normal for Jack.
Mary looked at him, "I didn't know you have claustrophobia."
Jack sat at her desk, "I don't, I just get afraid in elevators, I can ride in them OK, usually, but when they stop... I kinda freak out."
Mary raised her eyebrow at him.
Mary's phone rang before she could make some snide comment to Jack. It was Cindy calling her to tell her that she had convinced the reporter that she had no business in the dorm at nearly two A.M.
"I bet she didn't take that with style and grace."
Cindy laughed. "No, she got a little upset. Started talking about the rights of the press."
"I heard you use some choice language." Mary said.
"So you were in the elevator. I thought so." Cindy chuckled, "I got to work out on her a little."
Mary laughed. "Well thanks Cin, I'll see you in the morning."
There was a pause on the other end, "That'll be in about four hours. I don't think I'm gonna make it to breakfast. Goodnight."
Mary hung up. Jack had fallen asleep on her desk. She tugged on his arm, he got up stiffly and didn't seem to see her. She led him to the bed and he literally crashed on it. Mary took off his shoes and tucked him in. Shrugging, she laid beside him and they slept soundly the rest of the night.
Dale looked out her window. In the late evening twilight the great circular window was lit from the inside. It was beautiful and awe inspiring. It glowed above some trees and buildings. The spires of the Cathedral shone in their lights at the far end of the church.
"I love the view. What can you see from your window?"
Dale tried to think of something clever. He couldn't. "Nothing."
Peggy had read the booklet on the house, and the paper in the desk about the room, and the good Senator. Dale said he'd read it later.
Peggy told him all about how the house was currently being updated and was almost finished, with her room being one of the last to be done. Before long, she'd have a computer port in her room as well as a new bed. And a roommate, she added with a little frown.
Dale shrugged, even if they remodeled his room floor to ceiling, there was no way two guys could live in it.
What Dale didn't know was that his room was slated to be turned into a study lounge, with him moving upstairs.
"But Miss Alice said I get to help pick the furniture and decorations when they start my room." She looked around the room like she was picking drapes and wallpaper.
"Neat." Dale said looking at the drapes and wallpaper.
They went back downstairs.
Dale got his first taste of supper in the house. Harrison was sitting in the music room, in suit and tie, smoking a cigar, reading the city's evening newspaper, he was sipping some sort of mixed drink. There were several other residents around. They introduced themselves so quickly he had no idea who was who.
Peggy walked over to Sandy who was on the piano.
Sandy was improvising a jazzy number based on several well-known operatic themes. When Sandy wasn't studying music or working at the nursing home, she was playing music. She never tired of it, and had been known to sit down at the Baby Grand after breakfast, and later have to be pried away from it for the late dinner. She was also very good.
In a few minutes the butler arrived. "As soon as Mister Hinerick is dressed. Dinner will be served." He said stiffly.
Dale looked down, he had on clothes, he didn't understand. Harrison waved him over. The Physicist wrapped an ugly tie around Dale's neck and tied it. Then pulled his collar over it.
"Dinner is served." The butler said with only the vaguest hint of a smile.
Dale finally noticed that Peggy and all the other girls were wearing dresses. In the dining room Dale got another shock.
Dale, not being a world traveler or great lady's man, had never been face to face with a woman who was universally accepted as beautiful, gracious, intelligent, and charming. Physically she was, to be blunt, stacked. She had a classic hourglass figure with curves that never seemed to end. Intelectually she was as sharp as a tack, yes she was a graduate art student and associate professor, but she was also walking in a long tradition of all around Liberal Arts Education. She was also smooth, polished, well spoken, and ... well that's enough.
All of the sudden Dale was being introduced to a young woman who was probably the most attractive woman, in all respects, in the entire state. She smiled at him and said something Dale never heard.
Dale was in gape-mouthed wide-eyed stand-there-tall-and-dumb shock.
Colleen simply smiled at him.
Two Dorms Part 9
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